The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘signage

waking life

with 3 comments

It’s Thursday. The first rule of Thursday is you dont talk about Thursday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another Northern Blvd. gas station, another night for a humble narrator. Presuming that when I went for my vaccination this week (I’m writing this on Sunday, appointment is Tuesday, you’re reading this on Thursday, so who the hell knows what’s happened since Sunday) I didn’t end up in anaphylactic shock or something, I’m now one month away from getting my life back from the Corona Virus Pandemic. Fantasies of good times in the company of human strangers are taking the form of intrusive thoughts for me right now. So’s going back to living a somewhat normal life. Eating in a restaurant, riding the Subway, visiting Staten Island’s North Shore… you take all of this for granted until it’s out of reach, huh?

This has been a fairly brutal 12 months for all of us, hasn’t it? It has been mainly banal and terrifying for me, but conversely, I’ve been insanely lucky as the people in my life who have suffered a COVID infection have all survived it. Perspective, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Perspective seems to be a missing quality these days, with everybody standing on calcified points of view and opinions. You disagree with someone about a nuance of some issue and you’re automatically Hitler. Recidivist elements of the old dialectic, with no chance to learn from mistakes and grow or evolve in the re-education camp, might as well send them to meet their makers. The proverbial “come to Jesus” moment doesn’t seem to exist anymore. One misstep and you’re done, forever. Personally, I’m reminded constantly that my points of view are disingenuous because of my racial identity, or gender, lifestyle, or whatever other drum the person I’m talking to is banging on. This gets old pretty fast, and unfortunately confirms a deeply held belief that people who have suffered oppression at the hands of others will immediately begin to inflict similar harms on others when they get into power. There’s a certain Middle Eastern nation state which comes to mind when I think about that subject, but that’s another story and controversy which I don’t want to get involved with.

At the moment, I’m seriously considering rolling everything back and retreating into my shell. Ending the Pentacle, resigning from whatever public facing position I hold, and just focusing in on selfish matters. In short, returning to being just another face in the crowd who doesn’t care about anything at all other than his bank account. I don’t mind a fight, but I mind fighting about nothing and the splitting of hairs. This may surprise you, but people in general aren’t terribly nice, and those you meet in the “political world” are often monsters. I’m tired of it all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another one of the subjects on my shot list, in addition to gas stations and tire shops, are Chinese Restaurants. I got into a screaming argument about two years ago with somebody about whether or not calling the menu offered at such establishments “Chinese Food” was racist. What a ridiculous waste of time and energy that argument was… but that’s kind of the point. Why oh why would this be something you want to argue for or against? What do you hope to achieve, and have you actually considered the opinions of the people who work and sell this particular cuisine or is it just another talking point on your agenda to prove that the world is corrupt and that you’ve somehow evolved? Conservation of energy, people.

A humble narrator has been narrating humbly for a long time now, and it’s entirely possible that I don’t want to narrate humbly anymore. Grrr.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, March 1st. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 4, 2021 at 2:00 pm

lacquered patinas

leave a comment »

Signs and portents.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Everybody wants to tell you what to do, all the time. Signage adjures, cautions, forbids, and demands attention wherever you look. If you’re literate, your brain instantly begins putting together the messaging on signs and you have no choice but to receive the intended messaging. For years, I’ve wondered about whether or not there’s some combination of words which could render you instantly insane upon receiving them, in the manner of a magick spell. Could a campaign of signage designed to transmit a “very bad idea” or incantation end civilization itself, and reduce mankind to atavistic savages in the process? We can only hope so.

Personally, I’m reduced to reaching into the archives today, as the whole busted toe drama has reduced my productivity to nearly zero.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I won’t fill you in on how to interpret the sign above, in the language of NYC’s street culture, but if you are literate in slang it’s quite a funny message.

One did manage to attend two CB1 community board functions this week, both of which saw me using a taxi to get to the meetings. The first was held by the “land use” committee, which I’m not a member of but we are encouraged to attend all committee meetings whether or not we are officially a member thereof. I’m trying to visit with each one of the groupings at least once, in pursuit of meeting all the other CB1 members and also learning the operational side of things. Personally, I’m on the “transportation” and “environmental” committee groups.

“Land use,” which was on Wednesday night, seems to focus in on zoning and other niceties of the City Planning process. Discussed was the status of Rikers Island. It seems that despite Rikers being officially and politically part of the Bronx, Queens CB1 has regency over the island and facility. The Dept. of City Planning was seeking board consensus for two items – redefining the island as a “public place,” and secondly the effort to create a locked down deadline of December of 2026 for when detention would no longer be allowed on Rikers Island. Discussion of what comes after occurred, but that was shelved as it’s functionally impossible to predict what the next Mayor and the next City Council coalition would want to do with it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last night, the “transportation” committee met. We received a presentation from Revel, a private company offering “last mile” electric moped services. With an app and smartphone based business model which feeds customers to their moped fleet of 1,000 units (currently), the Revel people were quite nice and prepared for questions and answers. In general, I’m liking their service (which I don’t use, but several of my friends do), and the conversation with their reps centered around safety and operational issues. My questions for them centered around privacy issues, how long trip data persists on their servers, and so on.

It was nice to be amongst people, for a sheltered invalid such as myself.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come to the library!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek – The Roosevelt Island Historic Society has invited me to present a slideshow and talk about my beloved Newtown Creek at the New York Public Library on Roosevelt Island, on November 14th, 6 p.m. Free event!

Click here for more information.!

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 8, 2019 at 11:45 am

immediate presentation

with 4 comments

Everybody’s always telling me what to do, man.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Public signage is fascinating to one such as myself. Sometimes, as is the case with the specimen above which was found on the George Washington Bridge several years ago, a sign has been installed which attempt the criminalization of something not otherwise prohibited. This allows for the “pretext” needed for law enforcement officers to perform an interview and possibly hand out a citation. Without the presence of the sign, there’s no pretext.

It’s one of those wrinkly bits, constitutionally. Signage of the type displayed above was spattered all over the bridges of NYC after the September 11th attacks. Enforcement of the sign’s sentiments has proven costly for law enforcement, in court case after court case against photographers, so changes in the rules have been instituted. MTA Bridges and Tunnels, as well as the Port Authority folks, have created the rule “Must follow instructions posted on signage,” so if you’re walking over Triborough or George Washington Bridges anytime soon and ignore a posted missive that says “Jump” you’re in legal jeopardy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As advised by the local precinct brass when an army of hobos and bums appeared along Broadway in Astoria a couple of years ago, after a humble narrator inquired as to why it was legal to pass out drunk in front of my house but it wasn’t legal for me to energetically encourage the departure of the inebriate, another wrinkle was revealed. If you don’t have a sign up specifically forbidding trespassing, the cops are limited somewhat in what they are enabled to do. One prefers the sort of gentle persuasion and good mannered physicality which the NYPD rightly enjoy a reputation for, when the sidewalk outside my domicile has been turned into the daily gathering place for half dozen drunkards, to a couple of cops nicely asking the bums to move on. If you’ve got a “No Trespassing” sign up, now, that’s a different story altogether.

Famously, the cops used carry a “nightstick” as part of their compliment of utility belt tools, but not too long ago I found out they used to carry a “daystick.” My query as to what the difference between the two clubs was, to a veteran of the NYPD during the 1970’s, was answered with “It was some kind of plastic, and like a nightstick, but smaller. You’d use it to hit people, but the nightstick was better for that.” What do cops carry these days, for use as a club? A frozen Toblerone, perhaps? The mind boggles.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is always ready to fight, or give flight, as my brain commands the pancreas to manufacture all the fear and anxiety hormones and steroidal mixes it can manage. That means two things. One is that I “wake up tired” in the abdominal area found just above my small intestine and right below my liver, secondly is that a blind panic sets in as soon as the eyes flicker open from the interminable daily intervals wherein I pass out and wildly hallucinate for hours and hours.

Danger? Yeah, good morning.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 5, 2018 at 3:00 pm

tightly nailed

with one comment

How do you not read something if you know how to read?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Surrounded as we all are by signage, one often wonders about how, or if, you can tune it all out. If you can read the written word, it’s virtually impossible for the literate brain not to translate graphic messaging as language and process the printed symbols into words and thoughts. Given my notorious affections for the horror genre of literature and film, often has a certain postulate occurred to me – can you transmit a thought virus via the written word as supposed by HP Lovecraft and his dreaded Necronomicon? By thought virus, I’m referring to a “very bad idea” which induces instant madness in the reader – a sort of syllabic poison? As previously and multitudinously stated, I’m all ‘effed up.

“Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nfah Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!” anyone?

Note: Over the years I’ve had a few friends who suffered from various mental illnesses, many of which center around paranoid delusions, and if I noticed them carrying around a tarot deck or some other occult contrivance I would start to worry. Paranoids should avoid any sort of divination and the occult in general, in my opinion, as Gnosticism excaberates their inclination towards visualizing and finding patterns in random events and the usage of a dininatory device tends to confirm the efficacy of their self created beliefs. Such patterns of thought are “very bad ideas” which often lead to fugue states which include inescapable logical traps and racing thoughts, as well as a false perception of enhanced physical abilities – a psychological state which often leads to traumatic medical and pharmaceutical interventions and world weary cops referring to them as an “EDP” or Emotionally Disturbed Person. (I’ve been there for a couple of people’s “enhanced” states and it sucks, they’re having what basically a “brain attack” and there’s naught you can do except stand there and listen while gathering up and hiding sharp implements from around the room.) 

I always wonder – could it have been something I said?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A “very bad idea” that’s transmitted by a bit of public signage, like the sort you’ll see when approaching the Brooklyn Queens Expressway from Northern Blvd. for example, would be a pernicious foeman. The vast numbers who witness it – even from blocks away – would all be transformed into homicidal madmen and madladies. We are surrounded by the written word, and any literate person has no choice but to instantaneously read and process what they see.

Imagine, if you will, a screed whose combination of nouns and verbs is capable of instantaneously inducing madness. You blunder in front of the message during your daily round, and the thought virus imparted by the signage shatters the gentile veil of civilization – reducing you into thundering mania – a homicidal lunatic bent on wreaking random and bloody havoc. What if such a phrase was displayed to an audience of thousands in a sports stadium, or at Grand Central Terminal, or in Times Square at rush hour? What if it was sent out over the amber alert system and every cell phone in NYC carried the thought virus? Would it be translatable to Spanish, or Urdu, or Mandarin? It could reach epidemic status within minutes via modern technologies.

“Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He knows where They have trod earth’s fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread,” anyone?

This would be, of course, some sort of sorcery – but perhaps our modern world just hasn’t found the correct combination of syllables to shatter society’s strongest chord yet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In such a world, where the “very bad idea” had propagated forth and infected the literate – we’d have to rely on the illiterate to find a solution. Perhaps this is what happened during the dark ages, and the Black Death wasn’t bubonic plague but rather a thought virus that nearly consumed all of Europe – leaving behind an illiterate nobility and peasantry to repopulate the devastated countryside? Can this be what happened to Roman civilization in the 3rd century AD?

Ever Their praises, and abundance to the Black Goat of the Woods. Iä! Shub-Niggurath! Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young!

How do you ignore the written word if you can read? 


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 11, 2016 at 11:00 am

additional fact

with 2 comments

I can’t help it if I’m “literal minded.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that I used be a “comics guy” who wrote and drew the things, there’s a certain presupposition which possesses me to interpret things in an extremely literal fashion. Given that my days and nights are spent here in Western Queens, which is famously the most diverse collection of humanity upon the entire earth, a humble narrator often finds himself in quite a pickle when signage is encountered. Some of the neighbors offer a charming interpretation of the American variant of English, after all.

I was confused by the signage in the shot above, encountered at the border of Woodside and Sunnyside. They sell Tacos, but not pets? Is the meat in the Taco not pet meat? If so, then what about the hot dogs?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Certainty exists that the fellow who crafted the signage above intended to signal that the sidewalk was not open for its intended purpose, but one likes to assume it’s a general warning about the pavement’s proximity. On a technical note, the kerning and tracking of the letterforms adorning the missive could really use some love and attention – lousy typography is another one of my pet peeves.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The chalk screed on the signboard pictured above wasn’t just advertising a Soccer match on Astoria’s Broadway to me, instead it was describing the last 75 years of United States foreign policy. Then again, I am literally minded as offered above, and if you put “USA vs. World” on a sign…

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 28, 2016 at 11:00 am

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: